FROM lecturer of the UWI Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business to CEO, Mariano Browne is eager to tackle a turnaround of the institution.
That is not a novel undertaking for Browne who has experience in successful corporate turnarounds, and currently sits on a number of local private sector boards. He also served as a senator and minister in the Ministry of Finance from 2007 to 2010.
Browne, who has had a long and distinguished career in the banking sector, was appointed, effective September 1, to spearhead the strategic plan approved for the institution, which like the rest of the country is facing financial challenges with the advent of covid19.
The management and staff, in welcoming Browne, said it was looking forward to his leadership to transform the institution.
Browne who has been a member of the school’s adjunct faculty since 2014, will be accountable for the overall management of the school, ensuring its self-sufficiency and self-sustainability. He will lead the institution into the next phase of its development.
Speaking about the institution’s expectations of him on Sunday, Browne said his appointment is not a “rescue mission,” but a turnaround exercise.
“You know managers have to execute or be executed,” he joked.
On a more moderate tone he explained, “The country develops and lives on the basis of what is called tail winds, which gets you to where you are going faster because there is a wind behind. The wind beneath my wings was prices, but now we are in a lower price environment and we don’t have the wind, we have to learn how to swim. That’s where we are.”
He said the school is in the same position as the rest of the country.
“You have to find an operating level at which it could survive. So there are a number of things which have to be done to bring it to that area of operation. In the short term we have to do what we have to do to survive and then we also have to focus on developing our capacities and capabilities and basically operating in accordance with those capacities. So that is the immediate focus.”
The school's portfolio of academic and executive education programmes which are designed to develop innovative leaders, enhance organisational performance and create new enterprises, are fully online and classes never stopped during the country’s lockdown.
Pointing out that the school's training programmes had been built on a web method presentation, Browne explained that for the last three months he had done his lectures on supply chain management, international logistics and procurement entirely on the basis of the web approach.
“So the school is running entirely on the basis of an internet based teaching programme and that has been in position for the last six months.”
In June the school announced it was experiencing an operating cash flow challenge which resulted from the reduction in revenue owing to covid19 as well as the significant receivables of $20 million owed to the school, consisting of GATE receivables of $14 million and VAT refunds of $6 million.
Browne said the school was not unique in that circumstance.
The school has a current intake of approximately 500 students.
Asked if that was enough to sustain the institution, Browne said,“Every training institution at the moment would face with those difficulties. The business school is not unique in that regard. We would have exactly the same challenges that would be faced by University of the West Indies (UWI), that would be faced by COSTATT, UTT, like any organisation which expanded its programmes. Those are issues we have to deal with going forward.”
Browne said the school hoped to make changes within the next 18 months that would hopefully reap benefits in the next three years.
“Turnaround exercises are turnaround exercises. There would be mistakes sometimes you would be ahead of the plan, sometimes you will be behind the plan.
"The bottom line at all stages of the game is you have to work in accordance with a vision and a plan. So there is a plan in position and the organisation is well on the way to actualising that plan.”
Browne said just like the country is finding its way in this period of uncertainty, the school must also find its way.